This week my seniors wrote an in-class essay…and finally faced reality of Gillmore Cafe 16 (my class’ name). On Tuesday/Wednesday (we are on block scheduling), we introduced the prompt, previewed the sources, and went over expectations of the final product, and they (who had signed up for Remind 101) received a reminder to read their sources and be sure to have identified six pieces of evidence to use within their body paragraphs.
Not one…no, not one…thought to prewrite the essay outside of class; consequently, most then proceeded to stress as soon as they heard me say, “Take few minutes to review your sources before we go over the expectations again.” By the end of the second class, I very nearly had developed a complex, for the vibes were so negative! After that I took a couple of minutes to remind them that nothing new was being introduced today. The stress was on them for they had not spent enough time preparing for this in-class write.
Needless to say, these students need another essay of this sort, for obviously they had not written one such as this before. One change I will make, though, (and should have thought to do), includes providing a checklist of skills that must be documented within the essay. The students received a rubric with the assignment.
The argumentative essay became a true summative of all skills covered as I asked them to also intentionally include the language skills of appositive phrases and compound sentences, diction to prove a tone, vocabulary from our class list, besides all skills covered while creating an argumentative paper in class with my students. Before turning in the essay, each student had to annotate his/her own essay for the following:
- Type of introduction and conclusion created
- Six chunks – each had to include a signal phrase and evidence and two sentences of commentary
- Counterclaim and rebuttal
- Two appositive phrases, two compound sentences, and two vocabulary words.
The image at the right reflects (to some degree) the structure we used. In place of a CD (concrete detail), the students wrote a sentence that included a signal phrase and evidence from the text. Thank you, Ms. Jane, for providing such models!
Are these papers perfect? No. One, the papers are drafts. Two, timed drafts, at that. They are amazing, though, in the length and the evidence-based content each provided! These kids wrote probably the best essays they have ever written. I pushed them and pushed them, and they produced! Yes, I am very excited to see what writing they will be producing at the end of this year. Good things in sight!
My students will be college and career ready!
Another perk of this process? I have a student intern teacher this year, and she had the privilege (smile inserted here!) of grading two classes’ essays. What a tremendous blessing for me!
The first nine weeks ends next week…and, yes, they will write one more essay for us. This time, a final of a college entrance essay they drafted at the beginning of the nine weeks, one that will further illustrate to them and us the growth they have achieved as writers this quarter. Imagine my joy when several students asked, “Can I just start over?” Joy! So much so, that I did not even correct the can/may mistake!
Please share…what are you doing with your students to insure they are college and career ready?